Coll. Antropol. 28 Suppl. 1 (2004) 263-274

UDC 811.163.42'282(450.67)

Original scientific paper




Vitality and Erosion Of Molise

Croatian Dialect*



Anita Sujold×ić

Department for Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology, Institute for

Anthropological Research, Zagreb, Croatia






This paper gives a presentation of the condition of an endangered language located on the southern part of the Italian peninsula, spoken by a small community of transplanted Slavic population who fled the Eastern Adriatic coast during the Turkish invasion of the Balkan peninsula and have lived in complete isolation from related Slavic languages for five centuries surrounded by a majority of Italian speaking population. The overview of contact induced changes shows a high level of interferences at all structural levels resulting in a relatively stable mixed idiom. Preservation and revitalization efforts are discussed particularly in relation to the importance of writing and codification of the language as well as possible steps that can be undertaken in view of the link between language and the group cultural identity.



Key words: language shift, language maintenance, minority, group identity, literacy






A Croatian dialect has been spoken for about 500 years in three villages of the Italian province of Molise, since an emigration from the hinterland of central Dalmatia. Throughout a long period of isolation from other Croatian dialects, in contact with Italian and Molisian dialects, this idiom has changed in many ways, adapting lexical, phonological and morphological features of the languages with which it is in contact. It differs con-

siderably both from the Standard Croatian and the current vernaculars of its ancient homeland representing a challenge for scholars interested in the study of contact induced linguistic changes and the historical development of Croatian dialects. Spoken today by about 2000-2500 speakers this archaic dialect has been seriously threatened to disappear due to a high rate of economic emigration. However, in spite of, until recently, complete


* This research is funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Republic of Croatia (project no. 0196002).

Received for publication November 25, 2003







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